State Senators passed their version of the budget after hours of debate that bled over into the early morning hours on Wednesday. The political wrangling ended when a coalition of nine Republican senators dropped the two-day stalling effort. Click to hear KMZU’s Chelsea Wade talk with Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia:
Click to hear KMZU’s Chelsea Wade talk with Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg:
Click to hear KMZU’s Chelsea Wade talk with Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton:
The six hour marathon debate was not unprecedented, according to Sen. Schaefer. “Everyone was tired, but we got through it. I am very happy with how it came out. We were able to hold on for additional funding for K-12 education and higher education. We were able to get a moderate two percent pay increase for state employees that make below $45,000.”
Senators worked late into the evening Tuesday after spending several hours in negotiations off the floor. They eventually passed a $24 billion spending plan around 3:00 a.m. on Wednesday. “There was group of nine folks that really didn’t agree with the chairman’s thoughts and those things are worked out mainly behind the scenes, but it took almost two full days. There was another group of folks, including myself, that met informally and decided that we needed to get a budget bill passed. That is the one constitutional thing that we are required to do. If we can’t get a budget out, in a Republican controlled House and Senate, I don’t think the public would understand and nor would I.”
Senator Bill Stouffer, of Napton, offered his opinion on the budget-making process, saying unfunded mandates from the top strain the state’s spending plan. “We need some rational fiscal policies at the federal level so that folks can invest their money and start creating jobs again. There is so much indecision and threat at the federal level. People aren’t going to risk their money. We don’t know what Obamacare is going to do. We don’t know what cap-and-trade is going to do. We need to settle things down on the federal level and get people back to work.”
Senate and House members have two weeks left to hash out their differences. The Legislature has until May 11 before they will be required to stamp approved on a final budget.